Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flipped Lessons Using Excel Math

One of the buzz-word phrases in the education community today is "flipped lessons" or "flipped classroom." Read more on our blog post from June 6. Many teachers are flipping their lessons to change the concept of homework from "figuring it out on your own" to include "student-led learning." However, the "flipped lesson" has become a controversial subject.

"With a flipped lesson, instead of introducing a topic in class, the students are first exposed to it at home. That is their homework. They are to watch videos or take notes on designated pages in order to prepare them for the practice that they will do in class. It's basically a way to 'front-load' the instruction so when students come to class, they're prepared and the concept will not seem so new." Read more on Teaching Ahead of the Curve Blog.

Each teacher must decide whether to "flip" the entire classroom, flip individual math lessons, use a more traditional teaching method, or use a combination of methods. When students take a homework assignment home, there can be a void with no teacher to help them. For many students, there is no one at home to help them at all.

Some math texbooks assume that if a teacher gives help in class, the student is therefore 'ready' for independent practice. The problem, however, is that in many mathematics curriculums, students are asked to complete homework on concepts that have just been introduced a few hours before. As a result, kids come back to school the next day with unfinished homework, confusion, and more questions than answers.

Here's where Excel Math's true spiraling process with spaced repetition and a built-in feedback loop help close the achievement gap and make homework more of an independent study and review process:
Excel Math Spiraling Process with built in assessment and review
New concepts are first practiced (guided by the teacher) for at least one week before they are sent home for independent study. So by the time the concept goes home for independent instruction (homework), the student is able to complete the homework successfully most of the time. The CheckAnswer system provides immediate feedback, letting the student know if the answers are correct or if they need to be reworked. (Read more about the CheckAnswer system.)

After the lesson of the day is taught, students can begin working on the Guided Practice section of the worksheet. This is where mastery and long-term memory of a concept is achieved. Students are able to see at a glance which problems they miss. If the CheckAnswer doesn't add up, the student goes back and checks his work to find out where he made the mistake. As the teacher assists students who need more help, others can work independently. When a student has a question, he simply raises his hand so the teacher knows to give the student individualized attention. If several students have similar questions, the teacher can address the entire class with a review of the concept.
So a typical Excel Math lesson format would include:
  • 3-5 Minutes: Warm up with Basic Fact Practice (provided on Excel Math Student Worksheets).
  • 10-15 Minutes: Lesson of the Day direct instruction.
  • 20-35 Minutes: Guided Practice (during this time the teacher can help students individually)
  • Extension: Homework outside of class.

A flipped lesson may give students more time in class to practice and ask questions because the teacher is spending less time teaching. According to one group of teachers, "for a classroom to truly be 'flipped,' prepared instruction must continue at home, not just in the classroom."

If you decide to flip your classroom (or some of your lessons) and use Excel Math, here's what your flipped lesson format could include:
  • 5-10 Minutes: Warm up with Basic Fact Practice (provided on Excel Math Student Worksheets).
  • 5-10 Minutes: Clarification of the video or DVD lesson and questions from note taking. (Modified Lesson of the Day direct instruction.)
  • 20-35 Minutes: Guided Practice (during this time the teacher can help students individually)
  • Closure: Students self-assess the number or percentage of questions they got correct.
  • Extension: Homework plus video or DVD assignment of the next day's lesson outside of class. 

Since Excel Math homework is designed to last just 10-15 minutes, students can complete the homework page plus watch a 5-10-minute YouTube video or DVD of the next day's lesson at home. 

Here's a video one teacher, Mr. Bedley, created to explain Excel Math concepts from Lesson #2 to his 5th Grade students:

Grade 5 Excel Math Lesson 2 [5:34 min]

This video shows how the Excel Math Projectable Lessons can be used to explain the Lesson of the Day to the entire class. You can create your own videos by simply recording each lesson as you teach it. To accommodate students without internet access at home, some teachers are creating DVDs for students to view on their computers. Others create YouTube presentations of the lessons and post them on secure sites where students can access them from home. 

The videos can be used as homework the night before the lesson to give the students a preview of the concepts that will be practiced in class the next day. Even if you don't flip your classroom, you can use the videos (your own or those on our website) as a review of the concepts taught during class. Videos can be especially helpful for students who need remediation or review of certain lessons or concepts.

Even without videos, Excel Math provides an efficient way to prepare students for homework. Here's how Excel Math with its unique spiraling process works: a concept is introduced and then reviewed and reinforced through spaced repetition over a period of one week before it is included in homework. That concept is then assessed with a test two to three weeks later.

With the Excel Math spiraling process, students are not sent home to figure things out for themselves. And they are not asked to remember concepts they have just been taught that day. Here's a more detailed look at how the process works on a weekly basis:

If you're ready to make the flip, read Andrew Miller's blog post, "Five Best Practices for Flipping Your Classroom" at Join Excel Math on Edmodo to find out what other teachers are doing. Then take a look at the Excel Math lesson videos on our website for some well-presented
math lessons you can use with your own classes.

Remember, it's not necessary to flip your math class in order to use Excel Math with your students. So whether you flip your class or not, Excel Math lessons will help your students to increase long-term retention of math concepts, build confidence, introduce them to regular testing (and help them develop test-taking skills), provide them with a natural feedback loop so they can check their own answers, help them combine math with literacy, increase their understanding of math as well as their test scores, and much more. Read more about Excel Math and how to get started. Take a look at samples of Excel Math curriculum on our website. Leave a comment to let us know if you're flipping your math class and how Excel Math his working for your students.